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Louisa, do you propose as I have bidden you. But neither time nor turn is come yet, my dear. You must wait months, which are to a young girl years, and are as fraught with weighty experience, before you can be justified in giving your heart or your hand to a man; and yet it is full time that I should indicate your plan of action, show you your weapons, put you on your guard, and assure
of your strength, and of your adversary's weak points. Forewarned is forearmed, and, young as you are, it yet behoves you to be prepared for every eventuality. One never knows what may happen. Ere I quit this portion of the subject, however, let me tell you that I do not regard my system of rapprochement as absolute, or as infallible. Indeed, there are dreadful cases in which the one word requisite is never, never spoken. Sometimes the word that would give ineffable joy and gladness is half uttered, but the better moiety remains among the eternal silences of the soul. These are the worst cases of all. Men and women go on loving hopelessly, silently, for years, face to face, but with a dreary gulf between them—loving and despairing till they are grey-headed ; loving and despairing till the passion grows implacable and vengeful, till the ripe fruit drops from the bough and moulders, and rots in the dust. Let me try to remember the old familiar lines from. Christabel :
I have forgotten half of the lines, but have quoted enough to
show you what I mean. And to think that a pair of nail
scissors might have snipped this Gordian-knot, and a crochetneedle bridged across this yawning gulf, and a reel of cotton dropped on the carpet and picked up by a shy man in “peg. tops," have settled this woeful misunderstanding happily, at once and for ever!
By the way, Miss, you appear to be very learned on the “pegtop" theme. I do not object to you studying the extremities of the opposite sex with assiduity, for next to a man's heart and morals you should institute a rigid inquiry into the condition of his legs. A man may gain great victories, or suffer shameful defeat through his legs. Never mind the ridiculous American purists who are too modest to call a spade a spade, and a leg a leg, and nicknaming them “supporters," go straightway to devise the absurd and immodest Bloomer costume, giving rise, as it does, to ribald comments from men on a part of a lady's dress with which they have no business, and ought to know nothing about. But you are a brave English girl, and as you see hundreds of men's legs every day, you have a right to study, to observe, and to form your opinions on them. As a rule, good men have good legs. Crooked leg, crooked mind; that is one of my mottoes, and one which I have very seldom found to be faulty. Your dear papa had a prejudice against tailors. I am more tolerant; and yet I can't help thinking that they become morally warped from twisting their legs beneath them. What dreadful legs some of our most atrocious criminals have had! The infamous Burke, my dear, who pitch-plastered people to death before you were born, and sold their bodies to the surgeons, had the very worst pair of bowlegs that ever were seen. Look what spoiling their legs by sitting tailor-fashion has brought the Turks to. As a walking, free-legged people, they overran Asia, and conquered Constantinople; but they took to sitting cross-legged, and became a
mere effete, degenerate set of barbarians, squatting on their divans, smoking pipes and drinking coffee all day long; eating with their fingers; ordering poor creatures to be bastinadoed, if, indeed, they didn't have them bowstrung or decapitated; sewing up their wives, of whom they have a disgraceful number, in sacks, and throwing them into the Bosphorus. I don't like the Russians much; but if there be one thing that could reconcile me to their taking Constantinople, it would be the symmetrical legs, handsomely cut trousers, and beautiful patent-leather boots, which recent travellers assure us are such distinguished characteristics of the upper
classes of Muscovites. In my young days, a tight leg was a pretty accurate sign of a gentleman ; in your young days, the loose, or “ pegtop” leg, is fashionable. People who wear tight trousers now-adays are either dancing-masters, waiters, actors, or sporting characters and prize-fighters, ostlers, and omnibus conductors. But, ah me! what exquisitely-turned legs and feet I have seen in the days when the aristocracy wore white kerseymere smalls, silk stockings, and pumps. Such smalls, such stockings, such shoes wore my Lord Castlereagh, and Sir Thomas Lawrence—a man whose legs were fit for an emperor, as were his manners and deportment and genius, although he was but a west-country innkeeper's son.
Such smalls wore M. de Châteaubriand, and Count Pozzo di Borgo, and Prince Metternich. Such smalls, albeit of a different fabric, wore his most sainted Majesty, our present Sovereign’s revered uncle
, King George the Fourth, your papa's monarch, patron, and friend. Ah, my dear, what a heart, what a leg, had that revered potentate! You know I have, in my front drawingFoom here, a proof before letters of the now almost priceless engraving published by Colnaghi, of our best of princes in his beautiful curly head of hair, his frogged surtout, with the
hand-such a hand to kiss, love !-hanging
fur collar and the star of the garter near his royal heart; bis plump
sofa; the column and curtain behind him; the
pens by his side; and those immortal legsstandish cinctured by the garter-encased in silk stockings, and varnished
pumps. It makes me weep even now, after all this lapse of time, to contemplate those blessed Legs!
on the terrace of the Queen of Sheba's Could the balustrades palace ever have equalled those legs! Could the best piano
turned in ebony, rose or walnut-wood in the estaforte-legs blishments of Messrs. Erard, or Collard and Collard, come up to those unequalled terminations! They don't make such legs
now naturally, although one of my yellow admirals, who was badly wounded in the knee-cap at Navarino, tells me that the Mr. Gray, of Cork Street, Burlington Gardens, London, whom I have already mentioned, is famous for making artificial limis, and supplies to order, arms, legs, noses, ears, lips, almost everything, indeed, that one can have lost in war or through disease
. During the Crimean campaigns Mr. Gray, so my yellow admiral says, was a perfect centipede in false legs; and now his legs go to Court, and mount on horseback, and polk, and waltz, and kick people downstairs. Heigho! Mr. Gray may be a clever man, but can he make me a new heart; can he, with all his cunning development of anatomical analogy, give me a counterpart of the organ that pulsated with hope and happiness in the days of smalls and pumps ? I can no more, my dear; the memories of days for ever fied, and King George the Fourth's legs, are too much for
your affectionate mother. Yet I like the present "pegtops," and think them becoming and manly, when they are not outrageously loose at the hips, and tight at the boot.
LETTER THE FIFTH.
ON SHOPS AND SHOPPING.
Pumpuell-le-Springs. I AM grieved to the heart to learn that the Influenza has one more victim in the person of kind Mrs. de Fytchett. She has kept her room, you say, for a week, and has taken no other nutriment than Van Gopus's Ermolina Sympathetica, the new - Food” which is to supersede arrowroot, sago, tapioca, and even our dear old Embden groats. My darling, I should wish you to take your mamma as an epistolary model, and shudder to use a harsh and unseemly word; but I am out of patience: I have a touch
old rheumatism in addition to my other ailments; and I must say—Bother Van Gopus’s Ermolina Sympathetica, and all other new “Foods," Revalentas, Ervalentas, and “entas ” and “ inas” in the advertising category! Perhaps I may exclude Brown and Polson's Corn Flour, which tiresome old General Gargall has taken with beneficial effect for his last new set of complaints. This creature is a sheer hypochondriac, and wakes up every morning with a fresh series of diseases.
· My dear Madam,” he says to me on Monday, “I suffer agonies from sciatica.” On Tuesday, he has congestion of the liver; on Wednesday it is his pancreas which is affected—I don't believe he has one; on Thursday it is the General's thorax that is out of order. "Pshaw, my dear General," I say—or something equivalent